Arkansas Court to Hear Argument Against Anti-Gay Sodomy Law
Seven Arkansans Join Together to Challenge Discriminatory
Lambda Legal Defense
and Education Fund, January 23, 2001
For Immediate Release
Contact: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 888-987-1984 (pager)
Susan Sommer 212-809-8585 x 271
NEW YORK Seven lesbian and gay Arkansas residents
soon get to make their case against the states same-sex-only sodomy
statute, which they argue violates their constitutional rights to equal
protection and privacy, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said Tuesday.
Circuit Court Judge David Bogard will hear motions asking for a final
judgment in the case, Picado v. Jegley, at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, January
29. Immediately afterwards, several of the plaintiffs and Lambda Supervising
Attorney Susan Sommer will speak to reporters in the courthouse rotunda.
"With this lawsuit, these seven proud and brave individuals are saying
that the government should not be peering into Arkansas bedrooms to
investigate adult consensual intimacy," Sommer said. "Our plaintiffs
are standing up for privacy and equality in their state."
Elena Picado, a teacher and mother, and the other plaintiffs have come
forward because they are unfairly singled out as criminals by the law, which
applies only to same-sex acts, and because it invades their privacy. They also
say that the law is the product of and fuels anti-gay sentiment in Arkansas.
They live daily with the threat of prosecution and of other harms the law is
used to justify, such as loss of employment, eviction from their homes, and
even loss of custody of their children.
In Code Section 5-14-122, Arkansas criminally bans consensual sex,
including oral and anal sex, by same-sex couples, with punishment of up to one
year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Arkansas had a similar law that covered all
couples until it was repealed in 1975. The legislature turned around in 1977
and enacted the current law to forbid same-sex couples from engaging in the
intimate conduct that remains lawful for heterosexual couples.
Lambda filed the case on January 28, 1998; the state repeatedly has fought
to have it dismissed. Now, both sides have filed motions for summary judgment,
asking the trial court to decide the case on its merits on the basis of briefs
and affidavits without the need for a trial.
Ruth Harlow and Sommer are Lambdas attorneys on the case. David Ivers
and Emily Sneddon of the Little Rock firm Mitchell, Blackstock & Barnes
are Lambdas cooperating attorneys. Little Rock solo practitioner Gary
Sullivan is of counsel to Lambda on the case, as is former Lambda attorney
WHAT: Hearing on cross motions for summary judgment in Picado v. Jegley
WHO: Susan Sommer, Supervising Attorney for Lambda Legal Defense and
Education Fund and individual plaintiffs will speak to reporters afterwards in
WHERE: Arkansas Circuit Court, Sixth Division, 401 W. Markham, Little Rock
WHEN: Monday, January 29, argument scheduled for 9:00 a.m.
Link directly to Lambdas news release: http://www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/pages/documents/record?record=768
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
120 Wall Street, Suite 1500
New York, NY 10005-3904
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